Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

all wrong. If the powers of darkness and delusion are strong in all the strength of bad passions and sophistical vices, let them be opposed by men whose spirits are of the “gr test size and divinest mettle”; by men who have the arm to smite and the brain to know; by men whose souls can thrid all those mazes of deceit through which sin eludes the chase of the weak in heart and the small in mind. Without force of character, there can be no force of impression. Words never gush out with persuasive or awful power from a feeble heart. Timidity, learned ease, a command of certain forms of expression, faith in terms, are characteristics of too many men, whose mission is to save souls by courage, activity, and power of conceiving and expressing. truth. Since the clergy have lost the hold upon the mind given by superstition, have they sustained their legitimate influence by mental and moral power ? Dry and dead matter of fact, or thin dilutions of transcendental sentiment, are the last things to effect this object, and yet they seem the first things which our modern soldiers of the cross grasp with their trembling fingers. The object, indeed, requires, that a good portion of the mind and genius of the land should be enlisted in the ranks of theology. We want neither ignorant fanaticism nor intelligent nonchalance.

This tameness of spirit is fast extending to doctrine and practice. A spurious toleration and liberality have supplanted the old earnest zeal. We live in an era of good feeling. The word unmentionable to ears polite burns the fingers of those who should launch it at sin. The meaning attached to the phrases of God's wrath and justice shocks our modern sensibilities. Sorrow and love are the two aspects under which the Deity is now contemplated. The terrors and threatenings of the law are hidden in a rosecolored mist of rhetoric. The great object of the age is to remove every thing from the surface of society which offends the eye

of refined taste. Spiritual sins have been withdrawn from the front rank of transgressions, and sins of the senses promoted to their place. Every person of stern force of character rides over the clergy. A man who gets inflamed with any earnest thought speeds from his denomination, to rave men into some new heresy. As it would be intolerant to say that he was presumptuous or infidel, he is to be treated with the utmost politeness, or with a mild and whining opposition ; and even this inoffensive ineffectiveness of admonition, this chiding in the nerveless terms of a canting toleration, does not prevent its object from setting up as a martyr, and expending his inward agonies constantly in the public ear. The difference between the ancient and modern martyr is the difference between being raked and scathed by “balls of consuming wildfire," and being gently peppered by popguns. To escape the imputation of bigotry, preachers slide softly into the opposite stupidity of indifference. The effect which inward sin has in shaping opinions few hardly dare to analyze. A strong, hardy, wholesome zeal, intimating a living belief in the importance of any particular set of doctrines, and a thorough-going force of soul in their promulgation, careless of the melodious whine of the mild, and the more dissonant yell of the bad, - this is becoming disgracefully rare.

It is easy to calculate the effect of such timidity and weakness on the literature of theology. The mediocrity of sermons cannot be laid to their subjects. Nothing can be clearer than that divinity affords the widest scope for the most various powers and accomplishments, and presents the strongest motives to their development and cultivation. In the literature of every age, theology should assert its grandeur and power, in masterpieces of thought and composition, which men of letters would be compelled to read, in order to deserve the name. Eloquence on almost every other subject is but a species of splendid fanaticism. It exists by detaching from the whole of nature and life some special thing, and exaggerating it out of its natural size and relations to produce a transient effect. But to the preacher, philosophy and eloquence are identical. His task is to restore the most awful of all realities to its rightful supremacy, — the dominion it enjoys according to the Heavenordained laws by which the world was made. The written and spoken literature, which is the record of this eloquent wisdom, should be characterized by the first and greatest merit of composition, vitality. It is this vitality, this living energy, this beating of the brave heart beneath the burning words, which gives immortality to every thing in literature that survives its generation. Strange that it should be most wanting in those compositions where it would be most naturally sought! There is more of it in many a speech by some political enthusiast, thrown off to save a party measure, than in many a sermon by some clerical icicle, intended to save a human soul. Sydney Smith, at the commencement of the present century, described the current sermons of his own church as being chiefly distinguished by decent debility; and we have repeatedly waded through sermons, on the most kindling and soul-animating themes, without being able to realize that the writer had any soul. Heaven and hell, righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come seemed to excite in him no more inspiring emotions than might have been raised from meditating on the mutations of trade. As it is unfortunately impossible for dulness at this day to shield itself from criticism, by tossing the names of

ffer and atheist at the critic, we humbly suggest that it would be wiser to elude the charge by infusing more energy and unction into the thing criticised. And we know of nothing more calculated to produce this desirable effect, than the study of a few sermonizers like South, and a hearty emulation of their learning and power ; and in all discourses, on all subjects, to recollect that “no man's dulness can be his duty, much less his perfection.”

z .
ky. Cary,

Art. III. - Carolina Sports, by Ladd and Water ; in

cluding Incidents of Devil-Fishing, fc. By the Hon. WILLIAM ELLIOTT, of Beaufort, s. C. Charleston : Burges & James. 1846.

12mo. pp. 172. In returning through South Carolina, a few years since, from a long journey in the Southern States, after some adventures by flood and field that might make a book, if we were disposed to write travels, our early associations and happy recollections of college life were suddenly roused by the appearance of the author of the book before us on the opposite side of the dinner-table at a hotel. Although fiveand-twenty years had passed away, since we looked up to him as one of an advanced class at Cambridge, distinguished by his rank as a scholar, and equally so by his readiness at all manly exercises, his fresh and vigorous appearance brought to memory the remark of John Randolph of Roanoke, when, late in life, he revisited the scenes of his collegiate course. He said that every thing appeared to him much as it used to do, except that two elm-trees on the college green seemed not quite so large as he remembered them to have been when he was a boy. We are not sure that Mr. Elliott looked quite as old as he appeared formerly to us, when at Cambridge. He was too far our senior for personal acquaintance in those days. But that was not necessary to fix a lasting impression of him. A very learned person lately remarked, that the wisdom of man had never appeared so imposing to him as it did in the class that was senior when he entered college ; and many people, like ourselves, could probably, from their own experience, apply a similar remark to all human greatness and glory. Reminiscences of this nature, to be sure, are by no means reciprocal in character. When looking back on those who have followed in our rear, the exclamation most natural is that of wonder that the unformed freshman should ever have grown up to wear the grizzled head and furrows of advancing years.

However, be all that as it may, we were highly pleased at the incident; and knowing that we must be mutually acquainted with many estimable and accomplished people, we resolved not to part without claiming recognition. The advance was cordially met; and among a deal of agreeable talk that followed, Mr. Elliott gave an interesting account of an adventure in which he had shortly before been engaged, having taken the lead in an encounter with a seamonster that had been supposed to be almost fabulous, and one quite as deserving of wonder as a sea-serpent would be, if we were sure that there were more like him in the ocean. We opened this book with eagerness, in hopes of finding the same story in it. It is related at length ; and the reader shall have it in the author's own words, though we may be obliged to curtail the language a little to leave room for some other extracts. It seems that Mr. Elliott has amused himself by furnishing from his experience as a sportsman descriptions of this sort for newspapers and magazines, and the articles from his pen have been brought together for publication in the present form. A part of the first one will serve as an introduction. He writes under the name of Piscator.

"I am an hereditary sportsman, and inherit the tastes of my grandfather, as well as his lands. Whoever has seen the beautiVOL. LXIII.- No. 133.

28

ful bay on which they are seated (known on the map as Port Royal Sound) with its transparent waters stocked with a variety of sea-fish, while the islands that gird it in abound in deer and other game, will confess that it is a position well calculated to draw out sporting propensities.

“ There is a fish, which annually visits this bay from May till August, — described by Linnæus as of the genus Ray, species Diodon. It is called by Dr. Mitchell (not without reason, from the bat-like structure of its flaps or wings) the Vampire of the Ocean. It is known with us as the Devil-fish. Its structure indicates great muscular power. It has long, angular wings and a capacious mouth; but the greatest singularity of its for mation consists in its arms (or horns, as they are called), which extend on each side of the mouth, and serve as feeders. Its size, with us, is from fourteen to twenty-five feet, measured across the back transversely. Its longitudinal measurement is less. Valliant describes this fish as reaching the size of fifty feet on the coast of Africa ; but Valliant was a traveller ! I am a sportsman merely, and claim no charter to exceed the truth. I must own, then, that the largest I have seen and measured was but eighteen feet across the back, from three to four feet thick as it lay on the ground, had horns, or feeders, three feet in length, curiously articulated at the ends so as to resemble the fingers of the human hand when clenched, and enjoyed an amplitude of mouth sufficient to admit of its receiving two aldermen abreast, had it relished such a quintessence of turtle.

“ It is the habit of this fish to ply these arms rapidly before its mouth while it swims, and to clasp with the utmost closeness and obstinacy whatever body it has once inclosed. In this way,

the boats of fishermen have often been dragged from their moorings and overset, by the Devil-fish having laid hold of the grapnel. It was in obeying this peculiarity of their nature, that a shoal of these fish, as they swept by in front of my grandfather's residence, would sometimes, at flood tide, approach so near to the shore as to come in contact with the water fence; the firm posts of which they would clasp and struggle to uptear, till they lashed the water into a foam with their powerful wings. This bold invasion of his landmarks my grandfather determined to resent.”

How he had his revenge we shall not stop to tell, because that, it seems, is matter only of tradition, and we pass to the account of what the author did himself. Modern sportsmen, far from attacking, had been, it seems, " content to be let alone by the Devil-fish.”

pp. 7-9.

« PředchozíPokračovat »